Niko’s Kantina Ride: The Devils Backbone

Like looking at a river flowing uphill, the mighty Espinazo del Diablo was luring me into it’s curves. We spent all day dancing on the turns, peeking at the views in the few straight stretches.

Took off early in the morning from Mazatlan with high expectations. I’ve heard several people talking about this road to be one if not The best road in the World. It has to be a very good road to beat some of the roads you’d find in Switzerland or Sardinia or even the roads I’ve seen so far on this trip. We are talking about the infamous road connecting Mazatlan to Durango called The Devil’s backbone or El Espinazo del Diablo as the locals call it. It used to be a pretty dangerous road, due to countless curves on the edge of some pretty cliffs with plenty of trucks on it. Today they have a toll road that connects the two cities through a bunch of tunnels and it is much faster, therefore most people choose the latter, so it’s mainly famous as a scenic drive and well, a great ride on a motorcycle. I was nervous, what is it gonna be like?

Just before starting the climb I stop in a village and had a plate of Aguachile with raw shrimps. The first ballsy move of what was to be a very fulfilling day.

Finished my breakfast, with my mouth still burning I take on the road. The first curve took me completely by surprise, I got used to some pretty straight roads the past two days. Ok, I survived that, check on my gps device, it looked like a lot of Z’s and W’s stuck together. Looks like fun.

With my playlist set on random, destiny happens. Out of the thousands of songs I have on my phone, Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre starts playing. Right at the beginning of this devilish road. Interesting enough, this symphonic poem is his 40th work (Op.40), which happens to be the same number as the official number of the road (carretera 40). And it was the most perfect music for the moment. The curves take you dancing up hill, almost as if the road engineer was trying to paint the road while designing it.

Slightly more than 300 kms that day, most of it was with the bike leaning into a curve. There is plenty of scenery as well, but sincerely I couldn’t care less. It was the road that mattered. Only negative point are the trucks. Yes, despite having a perfectly good, faster road to take there are still some truckers that have to take it, for a reason or another. That means that you’re riding on empty roads most of the time, and then you have a big ass truck, taking most of the road just behind the corner.

Despite that everything was great. Well, almost. It was snowing a couple of days ago and they had to close the road. But now it was open and supposed to be good. In fact it wasn’t all cleared. Up on the top of the mountain, what was already Durango region, just behind a corner I find the road to be fully covered in ice. Solid, icy ice. The trick is not to crash, so I put my bike straight and somehow manage to fly through that patch and then stop and examine my underwear for possible spills.

That was alright, but when I looked in front of me, more ice. It suddenly became a very long day. Fun, but long …

Eventually I made it past the ice, ducking around hoping to make it, when I get into an interestingly ugly town, where I stop for a well deserved refreshment.

I made it to Durango in late afternoon, which I spent looking for a hotel for the right price at the right location. I find a couple of options and in one of them something interesting happened. While negotiating the price I must have made an unwelcome comment, which suddenly turned the hotel to be fully booked. I wish people would get offended with war and starving childs at least as much as they get offended for pointless bullshit. Anyway, made me find a better hotel, with buffet breakfast. Thank you, destiny.

Headed back downtown, where I’m very happy to discover that it is a town of rock loving people, and even better, many appear to be bikers as well. So, quickly I befriend a couple of natives and they take me around town, making sure I enjoy every minute of it. For 2 days!

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